SNP leader Alex Salmond and Cardinal Keith O’Brien have agreed a pact to campaign against the Act of Settlement, which among other things, bars Catholics from the British throne.
A spokesman for Salmond added: "Both agreed to work at ending the poison and hatred sectarianism brings to Scotland. That is why it is so important that the Act of Settlement is abolished because sectarianism is inherent in the Act."
The agreement between the cardinal and Salmond will rekindle memories of the close ties the SNP leader forged with the late Cardinal Winning, who became increasingly sympathetic to the Scottish Nationalist cause in his later years.
SNP party chiefs have seen it as crucial to eat into the Catholic community’s traditional support for Labour, if they are to make inroads into their rivals’ grip on central Scotland. Salmond penned an article for Winning’s church newspaper and was rewarded by the cardinal’s declaration that Scottish nationalism was "mature, respectful and international in outlook". (Scotland on Sunday)
This is a noteworthy development given Salmond’s effectiveness as a campaigner. He is a contender for Parliamentarian of the Year, deservedly in my view , when one considers his role in raising the cash for peerages issue, which may yet result in serious reform of the Lords.
Naturally, he’s not universally popular:
Tony Blair seems to dislike Alex Salmond more than any other leader in the Commons. The Prime Minister can joke with David Cameron and Ming Campbell, even shake hands with Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley, but the MP for Banff and Buchan is persona non grata.
His antipathy has increased considerably over the past few months. Whenever Salmond asks him a question, the occupant of Number 10 hurls an insult at the SNP leader and follows it with a taunt about the SNP’s policy of “declaring” independence within 100 days. (Sunday Herald)
This isn’t actually the SNP policy according to the Sunday Herald article, which has some interesting thoughts on the practicalities of declaring independence.